Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sunday Morning Hot Links

New Stuff:

*Game 8 was canceled due to rain. The Astros, featuring a lineup with virtually no regulars, got booed mercilessly by a Spring Training crowd. The Astros stole confiscated the signs of the people who brought signs about sign-stealing. Orbit got booed. Who boos the mascot? Dusty:
You can't control what comes from the stands, you can just control your emotions and what you feel. I'm not worried about anything. 

*In the limited innings that were actually played, SP Cristian Javier worked through some nerves, throwing two perfect innings, striking out three of the six batters he faced while he hovered around 93-94mph with a snappy little breaking ball.

*Zack Greinke, an actual hero, only recently found out that the Pitchers & Catchers Report date wasn't mandatory. Greinke:
I just found out we don't have to come those other days. If I had known that 15 years ago, I probably wouldn't have been coming for a while now.

McTaggart: Greinke is looking for consistency in 2020.

*Here's a cool article from Chandler Rome on 6'7" 1B Taylor Jones, the Astros "First Baseman of the Future" who can also play 3B and OF. Jones:
Obviously, being close (to the Majors) and being in Triple-A all last year and playing well, you get excited because the next step is the big leagues. I just have to keep doing the same thing I've been doing and then they make the decisions at the end of the day. If I can just go out and do what I do, the rest will take care of itself.

Jones hit .291/.388/.501 for Round Rock in 2019. In theory, should Yuli Gurriel go on the IL or a spot open up for some reason for a position player, Jones would be in line. And with Yuli being a free agent after this season, this season is likely an audition for Jones for 2021. Espada, on Jones:
Very impressive the first couple of weeks. I'm excited to see more. He's going to get an opportunity to open some eyes here this spring.

*Will Leitch and Mike Petriello ranked the World Series contenders, 1-30. Scroll past the Yankees and Dodgers and check Leitch's note on the Astros.

Sign-Stealing Stuff:

*Jeff Passan: Let's chill out with the death threats.

Look, I know that a lot of you don't like Passan. Same with Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal. They've been the ones whose name have been on the reports all off-season, breaking some new level of fresh hell seemingly every day and adding to a winter of discontent at the end of a decade of discontent that peaked on November 1, 2017 only for the finest moment in franchise history to be...if not tainted, then ultimately disappointing, at best. Let's recap the decade in one line:

2010: Berkman hit .245; Staff Ace Brett Myers
2011: 106 losses
2012: 107 losses; CF Jordan Schaefer
2013: It can't get worse right? Oh wait DH Carlos Pena and 111 losses.
2014: Jon Singleton hit .168
2015: HOPE and then Game 4
2016: We do not speak of 2016
2017: Everyone in Houston was underwater, Astros get Verlander, win the World Series, bunch of trash can shenanigans.
2018: Lost four straight to Boston because baseball is stupid.
2019: Lost every single home game in the World Series then everything went to hell.

I'm not going to carry water for reporters. And this sentiment does not extend to all reporters across the board [side-eyes Jon Heyman], but I've read pretty much every word Passan (and Drellich and Rosenthal) wrote this off-season. Then last night, because I quit drinking and I was bored because everyone else in my house was asleep, I went back and read some of the pieces again. There's legitimately no bias in Passan's (and Drellich/Rosenthal's) reporting. It felt like it because it was about the Astros and the news was All Bad, but there was no glee, no pleasure being taken in what was being reported. Again, this isn't true for every journalist who weighed in on the Astros' off-season, but I feel for these dudes, specifically.

We're coming off the heels of the 2018 offseason, which was the most boring offseason in recorded history. Machado and Harper didn't sign until February. Legit nothing was happening. Then in November all hell broke loose and, for the first time in a long time, Baseball was absolutely riveting (if you're not an Astros fan). This offseason gave baseball fans a chance to feel outrage against a team who has dominated the regular season for the last three years. This was the story of the off-season, and it's journalistically irresponsible not to report every new wrinkle that pops up. Jeff Passan is one of the national baseball writers for ESPN. You can't expect him to just skip it because the story sucks.  Yes, the Astros are getting death threats because of what broke back in November. No, it's not Passan's fault, it's not Drellich's fault, it's not Rosenthal's fault. It could be Jomboy's fault.

In my little timeline of sign-stealing events there are obviously whispers about other teams doing...well, maybe not the exact same thing...but approaching what the Astros did, and the Astros were more egregious about it, and they got caught. In a lot of those stories about the Dodgers, or Yankees, or Red Sox, Passan's name is on the byline. But you can't expect, in a story about Carlos Correa using the trash can, a random one-off paragraph that says, "But remember, the Dodgers had a coach running in the tunnel from the video room to the dugout in 2018." As satisfying as it would be for it to break that the Dodgers - for all their moral outrage and White Boy Mad - were doing the same thing, we're not going to get that (yet).

I've never met Jeff Passan. I met Evan Drellich once, I think it was in the press box in Arlington. I saw Ken Rosenthal in Cooperstown a few times and, yes, he's very short. But, literally, don't shoot the messenger.

*McTaggart: Under new leadership, the Astros seek redemption.

*Last week, Bob Hilliard filed suit on behalf of season ticket holders against the Astros. Corpus Christi declined to renew their partnership with his law firm.

Other Stuff

*The Men Who Missed the Miracle on Ice.

*Skip Hollandsworth: "I Would Only Rob Banks For My Family..."

*Leeds 1 Reading 0. Leeds are now five points clear of the playoff and firmly in the 2nd automatic promotion spot with 12 games remaining.

*A Musical Selection: